Labour MP Williamson accused of using HMD to whitewash own prejudices

'No one in the Jewish community is fooled by those... using Holocaust Memorial Day as their smokescreen.'


Jewish Leadership Council chair Jonathan Goldstein has written to Labour MP Chris Williamson expressing the community’s “disgust” at his decision to publicly sign the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book Of Commitment in the House of Commons and share the photograph on social media.

In a letter sent to the staunch pro-Jeremy Corbyn parliamentarian on Wednesday, Mr Goldstein referred to the tweet shared on Mr Williamson’s Twitter account which referenced the need to “never forget” the horror of the Shoah.

He added: “No one in the Jewish community is fooled by those who try to whitewash their own prejudices by using Holocaust Memorial Day as their smokescreen.”

Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET), also issued her own condemnation of the MP’s conduct tweeting on Wednesday: “Making a mockery of the Holocaust is repulsive.” She also cited guidelines on the purpose of HET’s Book of Commitment, which state: “This is not a photo opportunity but a way to commit to remembering the Holocaust – one of the darkest and most defining moments of human history.”

The JLC chair stated that while he would not disagree with the tweet’s wording, he did “reject its legitimacy, given the way you repeatedly smear the loyalty and motivation of British Jews and others who voice sincere concern about the disgraceful levels of antisemitism within today’s Labour Party”.

Mr Goldstein said he had decided to write to the MP for Derby North after being contacted by “many members of the British Jewish community and other opponents of antisemitism” and he added that he shared their “disgust” over the MPs actions.

In a further attack on the MP, Mr Goldstein said the politician would not treat any other minority group in the UK “with such hostility” and referred to the recent attempt by Mr Williamson to “defend one of Britain’s most notorious antisemites, Gilad Atzmon” in a tweet which he later deleted.

The JLC chair added: “Your actions to date have not helped to oppose antisemitism. If anything, they repeatedly risk fuelling distrust and hatred against anyone concerned by antisemitism, which inevitably breeds suspicion against all British Jews and Jewish members of the Labour Party.”

The Board of Deputies also condemned the MP, tweeting that it was "the rankest of hypocrisy for Chris Williamson MP to sign the... Book of Commitment, while attacking anyone who raises antisemitism in the Labour Party. If he wishes to make a commitment on antisemitism it should be not to blame the victims of this ancient hatred.”

Mr Williamson posted a tweet on Monday which included a photograph of him signing the HET Book of Commitment in the Commons.  He wrote: “It is Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday. Hatred and bigotry led to the unimaginable horrors of the holocaust [sic]. We must never forget and always strive to build a better, peaceful and compassionate world through love and solidarity.”

The Derby North MP has been involved in a string of controversial incidents, including sharing platforms with Tony Greenstein, expelled by Labour over antisemitism allegations, and Jackie Walker, who is currently still suspended.

Mr Williamson also took a controversial political roadshow across the country and at one Momentum Liverpool event he failed to challenge a claim by an activist that Jewish Labour MPs were acting as “Israel’s footsoldiers.”

Last month, his signature remained on a petition defending notorious antisemite Gilad Atzmon for several hours after he triggered huge outrage by tweeting about it.

He was branded a "Jew baiter" by the Jewish Labour Movement but deleted the tweet promoting the petition and later apologised, saying he had learned Mr Atzmon "is not confined to the jazz world" saying, "I strongly disassociate myself from Atzmon's antisemitic views".

Mr Williamson last year also defended former Labour member Scott Nelson, who was expelled from the party after tweeting about “Jewish companies” with “Jewish blood… exploiting workers abroad”.

After initially denying that Mr Nelson had made such comments, describing them as “smears”, Mr Williamson then said Mr Nelson “repeatedly apologised for those comments. He is opposed to all forms of racism and bigotry… please give him a chance.”

In November, an invitation for Mr Williamson to speak at the University of Sheffield sparked fury amongst Jewish students and the invitation was eventually cancelled.

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